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For five years, Harry Dickson appeared to be a happy and healthy child — until the day he came home from school with a strangely bloated stomach.
His parents, Evelyn and Nigel Dickson took him the emergency department of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick but what was at first thought to be a common kidney disorder did not respond to medication and Harry kept deteriorating.
A genetic test revealed a much more serious condition.
“He had a mutation of the ACTN4 gene — for children there is about three documented cases in the world,” Mrs Dickson, 46, told The Sunday Telegraph.
“What that meant for Harry was that he would go into kidney failure within three months, but he went into kidney failure so fast.”
Harry would need a kidney transplant and daily dialysis to survive. Luckily his mum was a perfect match.
“It was a devastating diagnosis, so we went straight into finding a donor and I was the best option. And you don’t second-guess it,” she said.
It took nine months of medical work-ups, a strict diet, daily dialysis and getting Harry healthy enough for the surgery.
On November 25, Mrs Dickson was wheeled into theatre at Prince of Wales Hospital to have her kidney removed.
“I was taken in first, they pulled the kidney out, then they brought Harry in to the same operating theatre where they did the six-hour complex operation,” Mrs Dickson said.
Now just five months later, Harry is on the mend.
“I look at Harry now and you wouldn’t be able to tell, he is just amazing, he runs and he laughs and he is as normal as every other child,” she said.
It was made much easier by the work of the team at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
“There were a lot of hospital visits and stays and we accessed the hospital school, which was amazing but made him feel normal,” she said.
“Captain Starlight and the team, they work so hard, they come in and the kids do not want to engage, they are grumpy and stare at their TV screen and these people just come in and make them laugh, it’s an amazing environment,” she said.
To help other sick kids like Harry, donate to goldappeal.org.au